Updated: Sep 6, 2019
ADHD /ADD OUR STORY
Hi my name is Angelica. I am a mom of two kids, photographer, jiujitsu practitioner, stay at home mom and wife. OH! And last May I got diagnosed with ADD at the age of 31. I’d also like to mention that my 10 year old son has ADHD; he was diagnosed at 8 years old.
September 7th is National ADHD Awareness Day in the United States. This is the reason I decided to blog about the subject. So, before I get lost in my thoughts or distracted, let's begin.
This is our story:
As a kid, I struggled continuously to make friends, suffered from low self-esteem and felt like I was always a bad kid because I was constantly getting in trouble. I was known as the kid without a filter. I would just tell people what was on my mind. I was born and raised in a small town in Colombia. Cultures are different and these were different times so back then they were never big into diagnosing kids. I was told I was just being a KID, a very wild one. I recall my mother taking me the psychologist, which was the priest of our small town church. Unfortunately, we only had one session because he moved. I continued to struggle but I found a huge relief in judo at the age of 8. I was able to burn all my energy and frustration on the mat, all while winning medals and being praised for doing so. I stopped doing judo after 4 years but did other mixed martial arts like hapkido, Krav Maga and now as an adult, jujitsu. Martial arts were the one thing that made sense to me. When I was a teenager I was lonely even though I knew so many people. I did not make very strong connections with others. I continued to struggle to maintain friends because of my harsh attitude. The only people that seem to stick around were those who knew this was just the way I was and those who loved when I was straightforward and honest with my opinions.
Adulthood life in America was a struggle. It was hard to make friends, but now I had another factor to add: culture shock. I had never felt so lonely. I had just left my hometown at age 17 and moved thousands of miles away to the United States. Despite those challenges, very soon I found love and in him a best friend, perhaps one of the few people that understands me. We’ve been happily married ever since.
Being a military spouse who has lived overseas presents it’s own challenges when it comes to making and maintaining friends. But it wasn’t until I became a mom that I really struggled with low self-esteem trying to find a place where to fit in socially. I also suffered from depression and a big part of that had to do with the years I watched my own son struggle with the same things I endured as a child. I kept telling myself he was just a boy, a wild one. I didn’t know any better because this is what I was taught from a very young age. I kept thinking, “He is a lot better than I was when I was that age”. But he struggled and I saw his battle with low self-esteem, felt the sadness he had, he was not making friends and sometimes I would overhear kids saying he was “the bad kid”.
Finally, after years of trying to convince myself that this was normal behavior, trying natural oils and all kind of home remedies, my husband and I came to a decision to take him to the doctor. We explained all of our son’s behavior concerns and asked for him to get tested. Shortly after,he was diagnosed with ADHD.I was confused and in disbelief. We decided to follow the doctor’s recommendation and gave medication a try mainly because not only his self-esteem was not good but neither were his grades. I knew what he felt because I felt just like him.
My depression took a turn for the worse. I felt like a bad parent. Like I had failed him. I took the time to read and educate myselfabout ADHD. Within months I noticed a huge change with my son. His grades went up, my boy had friends!!Friends that would come looking for him to play with, this was such a relief. During the medication trial period we switched medications brands and tried different dosages until we found one that works for him to get him where he is now.
At that time I was staying busy with my photography business, doing jiujitsu and trying to believe everything will be ok. I had every reason to be happy, but honestly, I was a hot mess. I was still struggling as a mom, as a friend, and as a person. I still felt sadness, like I was not reaching my full potential. I noticed I started getting into a series of silly and meaningless car accidents, all because I was easily distracted, which terrified me because we had just moved to a new country. Driving anywhere gave me anxiety, I feared getting in to a car crash.This is when I decided to ask for help.I wanted to be a better person, a better mom and a better wife. I wanted the fear of driving and the anxiety attacks to stop. After all, I didn’t have an explanation for these feelings.
The day I was given my ADD diagnosis I was relieved. Yes, relieved. I felt like everything made so much sense now. I understood that maybe if I got treatment, perhaps I would not struggle as much either. Maybe if it worked for my son, it would work for me too. I started medication shortly after my diagnosis and I am currently still figuring out what’s the right dose for me. Ever since, I have noticed a huge improvement reaching a lot of my photography aspirations. This has allowed me to focus more on goals I’ve had in mind and getting task accomplished when meeting short deadlines. Also, I have found that blogging and doing photography tutorials has brought my business to the next level.
I decided to share my story of a lifelong struggle with undiagnosed ADD in hope that it might help someone who is going through a similar situation who perhaps has not been diagnosed yet and let them know there’s treatment available for them but mainly I wanted to share for those who might think, like I once did, that ADD/ADHD is not real.
Let’s hear my son's ADHD story:
I wanted to get insight into how my son felt about his life with ADHD. I wanted to make it seem like an interview, something fun for him so we sat down, I ask him a few questions, and here is the result of that.
Me: “How did you feel about your life before you were diagnosed with ADHD?”
Him: “I was very depressed because there were a lot of kids who made fun of me, and I did not have many friends. Also, I wasn’t being the nicest person myself.”
Me: “Did you feel like you were a bad kid?”
Him: “Yes, I felt like a horrible kid.”
Me: “Is there anything else you want to add?”
Him: “I feel like everything and everyone was against me and that was a horrible time.”
Me: “How did you feel when you found out you had ADHD?”
Him: “Well, it’s not like I found out right away. I heard people talking about it behind my back so I did not really know what it was. But when I figured out that I have the condition, it made me feel like maybe I am not that bad of a kid. I had a part of myself telling me that maybe it’s not completely my fault. But at the same time, I did feel like it was still my fault. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I just felt like ADHD was going to be this horrible thing for me because people will start treating me different because of my ADHD and “he is different”.
Me: “How did you feel when you found out you had to take medication?”
Him: “I felt horrible because I hate pills as it is. Even today I find it unfair that I have to take medication every day of my life. It sucks and it gets annoying, having to wake up every morning and be reminded to take this pill. I also feel like it is holding me back from being myself.”
Me: “Are you conscious that medications have helped you?”
Him: “Sadly yes. I wish it wasn’t this way and I can be myself. But, yeah again, it has helped me to be better. I was sad when I switched medications because I felt that the first one was making me better, but apparently, it was making me very angry. But this new medication is better since I don’t have to take as many. I just still wish I did not have to take medication.”
Me: “What was the first thing you told me when you were put in this new medication?”
Him: “I now feel like myself.”
Me: “Now that you have had your diagnosis for a while and are on the right medication, how do you feel about your future? What do you think is in store for you?”
Him: “I feel like there will be a lot of fights and arguments still but I know; I think it may be better.”
Me: “Now that you know more about ADHD do you still feel like is something wrong with you?”
Him: “I sort of feel like there is something wrong with me but yet I know there is and yet I know there really isn’t.”
Me: “Ace, do you feel like you are better today than you were yesterday?”
Me: “After you saw all the famous people who have been successful with ADHD, do you think that it is a curse?”
Me: “Ace what you want to be when you grow up?”
Him: “I want to be an architect or the president.”
I hope that after reading this you have a better understanding, or even maybe find that you can relate to our story.
Everyone's journey is different. I am not saying medication is the answer for everyone, but it is worth the try. My son and I continue to seek help in order to learn skills to improve our lives and help our behavior because we don’t want to depend solely on the medication.
Also remember you are not alone, even if you feel like you are.
I wanted to create a blog that would include more people with ADHD. Even though I know a lot of adults and children affected by it, most of them were reluctant to be part of a project where their diagnosis would be made public.
Why not? Something that is so common. Did you know 11% of American children between the ages of 7-17 are diagnosed with ADHD and 4.4 % of adults also are diagnosed? This is not something to be afraid or ashamed of but, unfortunately, this is the reality.
Hopefully, if this resonates with you maybe you have learned something and will stop making comments to parents telling them that they need to parent their kids better, perhaps you might find yourself in my shoes one day and you may need to seek help. Or maybe, just maybe you will be able to tell your kid, who has ADHD, that everything will be ok. He or she is not a bad kid. Their brain has a chemical imbalance that can be helped with medication or one of the many other methods available out there that you might find is right for you.
Let your kids know that there are famous people in the world that have ADHD too and they have done amazing things in our world. Some famous artists that have been said to have ADHD are Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and Rodi. You also have, Bill Gates from Microsoft, and Walt Disney. There are also famous actors like Sylvester Stallone, Robin Williams, Howie Mandel, Justin Timberlake, Channing Tatum, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Keanu Reeves and Adam Levine. We discovered in our search that famous inventors like The Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, and even former president John F. Kennedy were also known to have ADHD. These are just few.
Hug your kids tight and let them know that they will be ok.
PS: Care to wonder how many times I got off task? LOL, I hope you enjoyed it.